‘Super-agencies,’ been there; done that.

Health care in Ontario is a machine of many parts. It seems the Ford government wants to start collecting those parts into one super agency. The only problem with this is that there once was a super agency responsible for health care in the province. It was called the Ministry of Health. And it was the ministry itself that created all the disparate parts of the system with which the public is faced today.

Do the parts work well? Not really. Would a super agency work well? Not really. Would a super agency save money? Not in the long run.

But the mystical theory of all conservatives is that the fewer the agencies involved, efficiencies will follow. In theory, they are right. The only problem is that when you make a mistake in health care, you are mistreating people. It gets noticed faster.

When the 14 local health integration networks (LHINs) were established in Ontario, it was an attempt to take critical local decisions down to where they could be made closer to the needs of the patient. This localized arrangement was further structured more recently when local services such as home health services were taken over by the LHINs. If the idea was to reduce the heat on the Ministry of Health, it failed. And if the idea was to cut down on the size of the Ministry of Health, it failed.

The best guess of the Ford government’s intentions is that the 14 LHINs might be reduced to five regional oversight bodies. How this is supposed to save money is not clear to people who know how governments add and subtract. It is definitely not as simple as dividing by 14 and multiplying by five.

The danger that is obvious in this mathematical exercise is that many of the local services could be orphaned again. And woe to the local politician who gets caught in the cross fire. All I know is that for every act of kindness for a patient in Toronto, some sick soul is getting screwed out in the boonies.

It is disconcerting that health minister Christine Elliott—who was supposed to be one of the adults at the cabinet table—keeps talking about some sort of health care transformational policy that is coming.

It is even more disturbing that we hear that premier Ford has appointed his crony Rueben Devlin, former CEO of Humber River Hospital, to come up with this transformational policy at an annual stipend of $348,000 per year.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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